As an intern right now I've noticed that a fellow intern of mines has been making a plethora of mistakes whenever they do anything and because of that, I've had to fix every mistake they've made. Partially this is because I don't feel like I have the authority to let them know what her issues is and what they made mistakes on; that I assume is something the manager will take care of. However, it's been months and the manager hasn't actually seemed like they've spoken with them, because the issues still persist and the intern is still making a ton of mistakes, something that our team has had to fix constantly.

Like I said before, I don't really know if this is something I should bring up to my manager, bring up to the intern themself, or just keep mum about it and not do a thing about.

Is it worth letting the intern know? I feel that as an intern, I would be viewed badly if I were to go around to people pointing out their flaws, but at the same time, the intern is generally very nice to be around, and most people get along with them, and I don't want to be viewed as a snitch or whatnot.

  • Are her mistakes the same mistakes repeated over again, or is she making different mistakes? One thing is certain: if none of you speaks up, the situation is not going to change. Has any one investigated with her the type of mistakes she is making - is it a question of her not knowing what she is doing, of her never having been trained to do her job in a disciplined, systematic way, is she distracted with personal issues, or what? I have no idea what's going on in her world and if you all know only as much as I do - which is practically nothing, then you are all in some kind of trouble. – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 14 '14 at 18:33
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    Pointing our their mistakes is different than pointing out their flaws.. You keep forgetting a semi colon! (mistake) You're Lazy! (flaw) – EricSSH Nov 14 '14 at 19:16
  • @EricSSH It's tiny stuff to actively hurts what other people are doing, so people are getting confused only to realize that the intern has made a small error that hurt a lot of things. – yuritsuki Nov 14 '14 at 19:42
  • Just try and not make it personal, if you make it personal it will look badly upon you. – EricSSH Nov 17 '14 at 17:33

There are a few different ways you can look at it, but my preference has always been the "do unto others as you would have them do to you" concept. If you were making mistakes, and those mistakes were causing difficulties for someone else, would you prefer they go to your boss or would you rather they just came to you directly?

A concept applied in the military (and it seems to be gradually taking hold in the corporate world is well) is that you always want to handle conflicts at the absolutely lowest level possible. The higher up a problem travels the harder it hits when it finally lands on someone (and the more likely it is to fall back on you).

I would recommend speaking to the intern directly. Don't be a jerk about it, or tell her that she's an incompetent who doesn't deserve to be breathing your air. Guide her. When you were at the intern level I'm assuming that as an intern there is someone there to help point you in the right direction, pick you up when you do something stupid (come on, we've all done something stupid), and help you become a useful member of the team. Be that leader for her. If you can see her difficulties help her through them. If you can't, help her find someone who can.

Running to tell her boss isn't "snitching" on her, but it's counter productive. It gets involved an individual who doesn't need to be involved (unless the intern is actually being a jerk or doing these things on purpose). If there's a problem, it should be handled right where it's occurring. If the intern doesn't listen, then of course it needs to be escalated. However, keep it diffident. Never become aggressive, hostile or adversarial in any commentary.

I can't imagine you want to be doing the same job your entire life. Ultimately you'll likely want to transition to something supervisory, managerial, etc. Take this opportunity to be the leader and help her out. You might just find that your supervisor/manager takes notice of that kind of initiative and rewards you in some ways for it (beware: the aware for good work is more work). We all need proactive leaders in the workplace.

Note: Edit made due to the concept that while reading originally I did not pick up on the concept that OP is also an intern.

  • Great advice! I'd always prefer to get feedback directly then have to have it come from upper management. This is especially true in organizations where such feedback would be formally documented as a complaint, not the thing you want on your record as an intern if possible. – user17163 Nov 14 '14 at 19:31
  • I'll definitely follow your advice here. I haven't done anything yet regarding the situation, and I thought I'd be much safer asking experts than to risk causing harm to myself or others, so thanks a bunch! – yuritsuki Nov 14 '14 at 19:47

It is rarely ever a good idea to point out what you perceive as flaws to your peers unless you are asked specifically by the person to do so. This is the job of management and mentors.

You risk alienating yourself from not only those you are trying to help, but from others who work with you.

  • My issue is this has been persisting for months, and I don't know if management's been actually looking into it or that it will ever be resolved. – yuritsuki Nov 14 '14 at 19:43

If you're going to do this, the safest way would be to point out useful practices, not the flaws themselves. "Hey, I keep making that mistake myself; here's how I've learned to avoid it." "Have you seen this trick?" and so on. Keep it positive if you want them to listen.

And if at all possible, ask first. "Hey, I noticed you seem to be struggling a bit with X. Feel free to come to me with questions -- or would you like me to toss a useful idea in your direction now and then?" If they don't want to hear it from you, there's no way you can achieve anything.

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